Arm yourself with the facts. You've seen this idea come up many times over the blog posts here, and I believe it to hold true for dealing with anyone who is being a pain in the ass. You are going to get some wild questions thrown at you by people who don't understand (i.e. "don't plants have feelings?" or "you still eat fish, right?"), and knowing what you're talking about will usually pee on their parade pretty quickly.
Ignore them. This is a step that usually comes instinctually when someone is being a complete jerk and is harassing you just to piss you off. Just walk away, or close your IM window, do what it takes to remove yourself from the situation. If you can't leave, tell them (nicely) to stop. If you play their game, you'll only fuel their fire. Here's some good reading on dealing with bullies that is geared toward school kids, but applies well here because most antagonists are at the same level of maturity.
Lead by example. You'll probably have people who are close to you that will give you a hard time for your vegan diet. You can't ignore these people or educate them with facts because they just won't listen. What to do? Show them how awesome you are! When they start seeing how good you look and feel, hopefully it'll quiet them down and maybe help understand why you do what you do.
Jerks are everywhere, so we have to learn to deal with them. How have you dealt with ruffians in the past?
Photo credit dennisandluba on Flickr.
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